I’m loud. I’m the one with the obnoxious laughter that pierces through a room full of conversation. I’m the mom who regularly embarrasses her children by belting out a song in the middle of a store. In texts and emails, I often type sentences in ALL CAPS so I can be loud in print. I even broke—or at least contributed to breaking—someone’s eardrum once.
So you can imagine how I squirm when I read a verse like 1 Peter 3:4:
[A woman’s beauty should] be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
What Does Quiet Mean?
The word quiet always stands out like a sore thumb to me. I realize (and am relieved!) that this verse is referring to a quiet spirit, not necessarily to volume. Mary Kassian describes this kind of quiet like this:
When the Bible talks about quietness, it’s not referring to an absence of verbal noise as much as it’s referring to an absence of spiritual noise. Although there’s a connection, quietness has more to do with the state of our hearts than the quantity and volume of our words.
Quiet describes a mindset of calmness, serenity, and tranquility. It’s being settled, steadfast, and peaceful. A quiet disposition is like a still, peaceful pool of water, as opposed to a churning, agitated whirlpool. A quiet spirit is the opposite of an anxious, distressed, disorderly, and clamorous one.
In the past, I’ve been challenged to truly dive into the Word to understand what God has to say about quiet. When I started looking, I was expecting to find things like, “Be quiet. Peaceful. Calm. Silent. Self-controlled. Not busy. Not first to speak.” And I did find those things.
Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt (Ps. 31:18).
Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind (Eccl. 4:6).
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zeph. 3:17).
I didn’t want to rush past those kinds of verses because they’re truth I need to know and live out. But I really started to get intrigued when I read these:
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great or too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD, from this time forth and forevermore (Ps. 131:1–3).
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isa. 30:15).
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness , quietness and trust forever (Isa. 32:17).
At Different Times for Different Reasons
Do you see the same links I saw? Quiet with humility, wisdom, hope, peace, and strength. It was the link to strength that stood to me out the most. Quiet—in both volume and spirit—is necessary at different times for different reasons, and one of those is to allow us to rely on God to give us strength. To grow our strength by placing our hope and trust in Him.
This kind of quiet shows me I need to stop striving to act or figure things out on my own and instead quiet myself. To quiet the me-thinking and me-acting and come to an all-knowing, all-powerful God and allow Him to strengthen my heart and mind to think and act like Him.
These links to strength were particularly profound to me because I long for strength. True strength. The kind that will equip me for both everyday events and life-changing moments. I know my strength runs out in a hurry. So discovering quiet as a pathway and building block for strength has been essential.
Another concept sometimes linked to quiet is gentleness or meekness. Now before you balk at those words, remember strength is linked to quiet as well. Don’t fall into the temptation to assume that gentleness and meekness equals weakness. Instead, grasp that gentleness and meekness are more about having a spirit and disposition that puts God in His rightful place.
A gentle spirit puts God first, others next, and controls selfish desires. A meek spirit allows us to accept the circumstances of our lives in light of God’s sovereignty and to seek God’s strength to move through them. A definition of meekness from Blue Letter Bible sums these ideas up really well:
Gentleness or meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Galatians 5:23).
Quiet’s perspective is not my perspective, it’s God’s. When we are quiet and have a gentle spirit, we’re squelching our tendency toward “me” and “I” and instead allowing the Holy Spirit to control our minds, hearts, and actions. Then strength will come. Then wisdom will come. But we have to get out of the way.
That might mean being literally quiet or quieting the opinions and reactions inside our minds and hearts.
While my volume may remain loud, I can have a gentle, quiet spirit through the power of Christ. Humility, the desire for true strength, and a meekness that is seeking to put God in His rightful place can be the path to quiet—the kind of quiet that displays a reliance on God, seeking Him for wisdom and strength and not thinking and acting in my own power. Quiet that means self-control and putting God in His rightful place.
The Pursuit of Quiet
So practically speaking, how can we pursue quiet? The kind of quiet that displays our strength, hope, and wisdom is rooted in Christ.
1. We can pray.
This should be obvious, but this starting place is often passed over. If you desire quiet in any form in your life, ask for it! You can ask God to give you a quiet spirit—to show you what that looks like in all sorts of situations. Ask God to quiet your anxious heart. Ask God to still your racing mind. Ask Him to control your tongue. These are things His Word tells us He will do, so ask.
2. We can read the Bible, then use it as a tool.
Reading God’s Word is a way to pursue quiet. It’s the best way to replace the noise that comes from my own efforts and striving with the truth and confidence of the Lord. So reading, memorizing, and praying the Word can be tools to seek quiet.
3. Know where your “pause” and “stop” buttons are.
Let’s say that you’ve prayed and asked God for a quiet spirit. You’ve been reading your Bible and maybe even prayed some specific verses. But something happens. Worry comes creeping into your mind. A situation starts to spiral out of control, and you want to react. Hit pause. Push stop. There is a way out! Ask God to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Even if it has to be moment by moment sometimes, He is able to quiet your mind, heart, and mouth if you are willing to pursue and obey Him.
So pursue quiet. Seek to understand, and see how it might impact your life. Quiet surprised me. It might surprise you, too.